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What is optimal timing for trauma team alerts? A retrospective observational study of alert timing effects on the initial management of trauma patients

Authors Lillebo B, Seim, Vinjevoll O, Uleberg O

Received 9 May 2012

Accepted for publication 17 May 2012

Published 23 August 2012 Volume 2012:5 Pages 207—213


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Borge Lillebo,1 Andreas Seim,2 Ole-Petter Vinjevoll,3 Oddvar Uleberg3

Norwegian EHR Research Centre, Department of Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway; 2Department of Computer and Information Science, Faculty of Information Technology, Mathematics and Electrical Engineering, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway; 3Department of Anaesthesia and Emergency Medicine, St Olav's University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway

Background: Trauma teams improve the initial management of trauma patients. Optimal timing of trauma alerts could improve team preparedness and performance while also limiting adverse ripple effects throughout the hospital. The purpose of this study was to evaluate how timing of trauma team activation and notification affects initial in-hospital management of trauma patients.
Methods: Data from a single hospital trauma care quality registry were matched with data from a trauma team alert log. The time from patient arrival to chest X-ray, and the emergency department length of stay were compared with the timing of trauma team activations and whether or not trauma team members received a preactivation notification.
Results: In 2009, the trauma team was activated 352 times; 269 times met the inclusion criteria. There were statistically significant differences in time to chest X-ray for differently timed trauma team activations (P = 0.003). Median time to chest X-ray for teams activated 15–20 minutes prearrival was 5 minutes, and 8 minutes for teams activated <5 minutes before patient arrival. Timing had no effect on length of stay in the emergency department (P = 0.694). We found no effect of preactivation notification on time to chest X-ray (P = 0.474) or length of stay (P = 0.684).
Conclusion: Proactive trauma team activation improved the initial management of trauma patients. Trauma teams should be activated prior to patient arrival.

Keywords: emergency medical service communication systems, trauma centers, patient care team

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